Ancient China Timeline

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8000 – 2205 BC: Between the years 8000 and 2205 BC, early Chinese settlers established small settlements and engaged in agriculture along the major rivers, such as the Yangtze and the Yellow.

2696 BC: The fabled Yellow Emperor ruled around 2696 BC. Leizu, his wife, created the method for creating silk fabric.

2205 – 1575 BC: The Chinese learn how to produce bronze between 2205 and 1575 BC. China’s first dynasty is the Xia Dynasty.

Shang Dynasty, 1570–1045 BC

Zhou Dynasty, 1045–256 BC

771 BC: The Western Zhou era came to an end in 771 BC, and the Eastern Zhou era began. The seasons of spring and fall have arrived.

551 BC: Confucius, a philosopher and thinker, is born in 551 BC.

544 BC: Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, is born in 544 BC.

500 BC: Chinese inventors create cast iron approximately 500 BC. It is possible that the iron plough was created soon after.

481 BC: End of the Spring and Autumn era in 481 BC.

403 – 221 BC: Period of the Warring States. Leaders from various groups were continually battling for dominance thoughout this time.

342 BC: The crossbow is initially employed in China about 342 BC.

Qin Dynasty, 221–206 BC  

221 BC: Qin Shi Huangdi becomes China’s first emperor in 221 BC. To defend the populance against the Mongols,  Emperor orders the extension and connection of existing walls to create the Great Wall of China.

220 BC: China’s writing system is standardized by the government around 220 BC.

210 BC: The Terra Cotta Army is interred alongside Emperor Qin in 210 BC.

210 BC: umbrella is created in 210 BC.

Han Dynasty: 206 BC until 220 AD

207 BC: Gaozu, the first Han Emperor, creates the Chinese Civil Service to assist in running the government in 207 BC.

104 BC: Emperor Wu establishes the Taichu calendar in 104 BC, which will be used as the Chinese calendar for all of recorded history.

From 8 to 22 AD, the Xin Dynasty briefly topples the Han Dynasty.

2 AD: A government census is conducted in 2 AD. Estimates place the population of the Chinese Empire at 60 million.

105 AD: Cai Lun, a member of the Imperial court, creates paper in the year 105 AD.

208: Battle of Red Cliffs.

Six Dynasties from 222 to 581

250: The introduction of Buddhism to China.

Sui Dynasty, 589–618

The Grand Canal is finished in year 609.

Tang Dynasty, 618–907

The Diamond Sutra, an entire book, is printed using wood block printing for the first time in China in 868.

Five Dynasties from 907 to 960

Song Dynasty, 960–1279

Invention of moveable type for printing occurs in 1041.

The earliest date on which a gunpowder recipe is known is 1044.

The first description of the magnetic compass was made in 1088.

Genghis Khan leads the Mongol tribes in their unification in 1200.

Marco Polo sets out on his journey to China in 1271.

Yuan Dynasty, 1279–1368

Kublai Khan’s Mongols overthrow the Song Dynasty in 1279. The Yuan Dynasty is established by Kublai Khan.

Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644.

1405: Zheng, a Chinese explorer He starts his first trip to Africa and India. He will forge business ties and return with information from the outside world.

Chinese builders start work on the Forbidden City in 1405.

Beijing replaces Nanjing as the new capital of the Chinese Empire in 1420.

The first Portuguese traders in the nation is around 1517.

Qing Dynasty, 1644–1912

With the Xinhai Revolution in 1912, the Qing Dynasty is overthrown.

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